Plan your next getaway to Sonoma County’s beautiful wine country.
California’s Sonoma County is a wine and food lover’s dream destination. The area’s diverse geography and multitude of microclimates provide an optimal environment for producing world-class, terroir-driven wines and bountiful local foods. Sonoma is home to 425 wineries and nearly 60,000 acres of vineyards that span from the Pacific Coast to the Mayacamas Mountains, all of which are part of the 18 American Viticultural Areas. In addition to wine tastings, many wineries host events like dinners and live music performances. Read on to learn more about the delicious wine and inviting atmospheres of Sonoma’s wineries.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery: Geyserville
Francis and Eleanor Coppola purchased this 28-acre property in Alexander Valley in 2006. Francis Ford Coppola was inspired by Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens and wanted to create a family-friendly, resort-like winery, which he refers to as “a wine wonderland.” There is something for everyone at the property, including a swimming pool with cabanas, several dining options, a movie gallery, a pavilion featuring live entertainment and bocce courts. As for wine tastings, the Sonoma Inclusive Tasting is priced at $20 and a seated First Flight Tasting is $30. Private tastings are $50 and you can add an optional charcuterie board for an additional fee. Two classic everyday wines are always available to sample at no charge. While at the property, be sure to try the signature red blend wine, the Coppola Diamond Collection claret.
Patz & Hall: Sonoma
Patz & Hall was founded in 1988 by a group of four friends with the knowledge of and passion for winemaking. Winemaker James Hall has made every vintage of their wines since that year. In 2014, The Sonoma House at Patz & Hall opened, offering a picturesque setting to sample and appreciate their single-vineyard wines. Visitors can enjoy vineyard and mountain views while sipping a notable chardonnay or pinot noir. Select the casual Sonoma House tasting to try four single-vineyard wines for $35 per person. The more formal Salon Experience is an option on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (with a reservation 48 hours in advance). This tasting includes a selection of single-vineyard designate wines paired with small bites at $75.
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens: Fulton
Kendall-Jackson is picturesquely situated in the heart of Sonoma County, surrounded on all sides by gardens and vineyards. The culinary gardens at the estate cover approximately 4 acres and are home to rare and often hard-to-find seeds from around the globe. The Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate also has truffle orchards which produced the winery’s first harvest of Périgord black truffles in 2017. Travelers can make a reservation to experience a wine and food pairing with some ingredients sourced fresh from the on-site garden. The cost is $55 per person. Meanwhile, the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate’s signature tasting costs $15. The winery also hosts a farm-to-table dinner series, held once a month from May through October, for $175 per person. Winemaster Randy Ullom recommends visitors try Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve chardonnay.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery: Healdsburg
The inspiration for Jordan Vineyard & Winery (founded in 1972 by Tom and Sally Jordan) came from France’s food and wine culture. The stunning 1,200-acre property is set among the vineyards and rolling hills of the Alexander Valley. The winery chateau is home to the winemaking operation, wine cellars, kitchen and other facilities. It’s one of the places where you can taste the vineyard’s notable cabernets and chardonnays. Tasting experiences include wine and estate olive oils in the cellar room for $35 per person, sipping wines in the hilltop Chateau Block vineyard for $75 and the seasonal three-hour estate tour and tasting, featuring a wine, olive oil and food pairing for $125. Keep in mind, advance reservations are required.
Martinelli Winery: Windsor
The Martinelli family has been growing grapes and making wine in the Russian River area for more than 140 years, beginning with the arrival of Giuseppe Martinelli from Italy in the 1880s. The family still farms and produces small-batch chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel and syrah, but the winery is best known for its pinot noir and zinfandel. The winery is open daily and offers several tasting experiences, with most requiring reservations. Splurge on The Collector’s Flight to sample exclusive and highly rated wines for $75 per person. A basic terrace tasting costs $25. Regina Martinelli also suggests trying their Bondi Home Ranch pinot noir, Zio Tony Ranch pinot noir, Three Sisters Vineyard pinot noir, Blue Slide Ridge pinot noir, Jackass Vineyard zinfandel and the Giuseppe and Luisa zinfandel.
Cline Family Cellars: Sonoma
Cline Family Cellars is a family-owned and -operated sustainable winery. Fred Cline began making wine in 1982 at a small ranch in Oakley, California, and then purchased a 350-acre horse farm in Carneros in 1989. The ?rst vintages were from original plantings of ancient vines of mourvèdre, zinfandel and carignane grapes. Other varietals now include syrah and viognier, as well as pinot noir, merlot, chardonnay and pinot gris. Standard tastings are $10 per person. Private tastings feature award-winning varietals and a tour of the historic estate for $20. You can also bring a picnic, purchase a bottle of wine (or two) and reserve a table to enjoy lunch on the beautiful property. The Cline Family Cellars winemaker, Charlie Tsegeletos, recommends the Small Berry mourvèdre, Estate Grown viognier and Ancient Vines zinfandel.
Dry Creek Vineyard: Healdsburg
Dry Creek Vineyard was established by David Stare in 1972 and was the first to plant sauvignon blanc in the Dry Creek Valley. The winery is open daily and offers tastings of some of the top vintages from $15 per person. Visitors can also select one of the winery’s other options such as a tour and taste of Dry Creek Valley (for $40) or the private wine flight and picnic lunch (available from May through September for $50).
Mauritson Wines: Healdsburg
Mauritson Wines is known for its zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon. Located in Dry Creek Valley, Mauritson Wines dates back to 1884 when S.P. Hallengren, the great-great-great grandfather of winemaker Clay Mauritson, planted the first vines in 1884. Mauritson revived the family’s winemaking operation in the 1990s and in 1998, debuted the inaugural Mauritson Dry Creek Valley zinfandel. The tasting room is open daily for tasting flights at $30 per person. Private tours and tastings are available for $40. Winemaker Emma Kudritzki Hall’s top current recommendations are the 2017 Rockpile zinfandel, the 2016 Rockpile cabernet sauvignon and the 2016 Loam, Single Soil cabernet sauvignon.
Scribe Winery: Sonoma
Scribe Winery was founded in 2007 by fourth generation California farmers and brothers, Andrew and Adam Mariani. The winery is open Thursday to Monday and tastings are by appointment only between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Tastings are hosted in the Hacienda and cost $60 per person. This includes four current releases and light snacks sourced from the farm. It’s important to know that the winery does not permit outside food. Top recommendations to sample, according to the winery, include pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and the riesling and sylvaner that was first planted in 1858.
Keller Estate: Petaluma
The Keller Family began producing organically farmed estate wines 30 years ago at this picturesque locale in Petaluma Gap. The goal was to produce extraordinary handcrafted wines that would express the unique soil, climate and topography of their property. The estate is recognized for its limited production of pinot noirs and chardonnays, but visitors should also be sure to try the brut rosé sparkling and Rôtie syrah blend wines. Steven Harlor, Keller Estate’s hospitality manager and certified sommelier, also recommends trying the 2010 Precioso chardonnay. The winery offers private tastings by reservation only on Fridays and Saturdays for a 90-minute experience. The cost is $40 per person. The property is pet- and family-friendly, but they do not allow picnicking.
Laurel Glen: Glen Ellen
Laurel Glen’s organic estate vineyards sit atop Sonoma Mountain in the village of Glen Ellen. The winery’s specialty is cabernet sauvignon, but they also make rosé and sauvignon blanc. Tastings are available daily by appointment at the tasting room in Glen Ellen or at the winery in Windsor. A sampling of four current releases is $30 per person. Visitors can also taste rare vintages (spanning at least a decade) from the wine library for $50. Winemaker Randall Watkins suggests trying his favorite vintage, the 2009 Laurel Glen Vineyard Estate cabernet sauvignon.
Ledson Winery: Kenwood
Steve Ledson first arrived at this beautiful Sonoma property in 1989. Ten years later, the 16,000-square-foot Gothic and French-Normandy “castle” opened as Ledson Winery, surrounded by a 17-acre estate vineyard. The family also owns several other vineyards and produces more than 70 wines. Visitors can enjoy the classic tasting in one of three bar venues; it costs $20 to $30 per person, depending on the flight. Private wine tastings (for $75) require a reservation at least 24 hours in advance and are held on the veranda, which boasts views of the vineyard, or in a private suite.
Michel-Schlumberger Benchland Estate: Healdsburg
In 1979, Switzerland-born Jean-Jacques Michel planted the original vines at what is now the Michel-Schlumberger Benchland Estate. The winery produces 42 wines, ranging from stainless steel chardonnays to bold cabernets. A current favorite is the Revez en Rouge (“dream in red”), a blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec and petit verdot. The mission-style property is open daily for tastings that travelers can enjoy inside or outside with a view. The classic tasting features five wines for $15 per person and the reserve tasting offers six wines for $20; reservations are required. Cheese and charcuterie plates are available, but visitors can bring in picnic lunches as well. Visitors can also book overnight accommodations in the guest suites on-site.
MacRostie Winery and Vineyards: Healdsburg
MacRostie Winery and Vineyards was founded by Steve MacRostie in 1987. MacRostie, with winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen, produces chardonnay and pinot noir made from grapes sourced from 30 chardonnay vineyards and more than 15 pinot noir sites around Sonoma County. The MacRostie Estate House is situated on a hilltop and features beautiful valley and vineyard views. The winery is open daily for tastings, and reservations are recommended. The seated tasting costs between $25 and $35 per person, with a choice of two flights. An elevated tasting experience is priced at $75 and it includes a property tour and a private tasting of single-vineyard selections paired with selected small bites. Advance reservations are required.
Iron Horse: Sebastopol
Iron Horse is a small, family-owned estate winery located in Green Valley, part of the Russian River Valley. Audrey and Barry Sterling fell in love with the picturesque setting in 1976 and purchased the 300 acres two weeks later. The winery is known for its sparkling wine, chardonnay and pinot noir. An outdoor tasting is available daily, with patrons able to take in views of the vineyards and Mount Saint Helena in the distance. Visitors may choose from three different flights with five wines each for $30 per person. The VIP Tour & Tasting is available Monday through Friday for $50 per person, and highlights Iron Horse’s reserve and limited production sparkling wines. All tastings much be reserved in advance.
Rodney Strong Vineyards: Healdsburg
Rodney Strong, an American dancer, decided to pursue his dream of winemaking when he purchased what was known as Windsor Vineyards in 1962. The current owners, the Klein family, bought the winery in 1989 with the goal of focusing on modern artisan winemaking. Rodney Strong is recognized for its estate releases, best-in-class Sonoma County varietal wines and single-vineyard and reserve wines. The tasting room is open daily and offers tours, tastings and food pairing options, including wine and pizza on the terrace in the summer. Tastings start at $30 per person. For a real treat, make reservations for the five-course Vine to Table Experience, available on Saturdays and Sundays, for $75 per person.
J Vineyards & Winery: Healdsburg
J Vineyards is located in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley and boasts four distinct venues where wine aficionados can experience both estate wines and culinary offerings. The J Bubble Room offers an inventive Sonoma-inspired five-course wine and food pairing menu Thursday through Sunday for $125 per person. Daily J Legacy Tastings highlight small-production and reserve wines with artisan cheese pairings for $35. The J Signature Tasting, for $25, features five sparkling and varietal wines from the Russian River Valley. Winery tours include information about old-world winemaking methods, plus a tasting of five award-winning wines for $40. All tastings and tours require reservations.
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery: Healdsburg
Don and Rhonda Carano acquired land in the Alexander Valley and founded Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery in 1981. The vineyard’s first wines were released in 1987 — a 1985 Alexander Valley chardonnay and 1986 Fumé Blanc. The 24 sustainable vineyards now produce more than 20 white, red and dessert wines. Travelers will want to set aside several hours for visiting this beautiful Italian-inspired property. Visitors can wander through the 5 acres of gardens that surround Villa Fiore (the hospitality center), then sip wine purchased from the shop on the Il Terrazzo Terrace while admiring the vineyards. There are a variety of tastings available, including a sampling of four limited release wines in the underground cellar for $25 per person. A standard tasting of five wines costs $15.
Arrowood: Glen Ellen
Arrowood has been producing Bordeaux-inspired Sonoma County cabernet sauvignon from organic and sustainable vineyards since 1986. Founder Richard Arrowood would search for the most distinctive and terroir-driven vineyards across Sonoma to create his wines — and that tradition continues today. The winery is open daily and offers tastings by appointment. The limited release flight features Arrowood’s single-vineyard and reserve cabernet sauvignon wines for $30 per person. Meanwhile, the private seated tasting, for $50, includes the most sought-after limited releases, single-vineyard bottlings, a specially curated library offering and a pairing of locally sourced artisanal cheeses and charcuterie. Visitors are allowed to bring a picnic lunch to the property’s veranda, where they can soak in views of the vineyards and estate.
Gustafson Family Vineyards: Geyserville
Gustafson Family Vineyards is the highest elevation vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, boasting 247 acres and sweeping views of the Mayacamas Mountains and Lake Sonoma. The estate wines are made with grapes grown on their sustainable vineyard and include varietals such as cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, zinfandel and syrah. There are two tasting rooms with varying hours: one at the estate in Geyersville and another is located in Healdsburg. Tastings at the estate are free on Saturday and Sundays, and $15 on Fridays and Mondays (by appointment only). The Healdsburg tasting room allows visitors to sample four wines for $10 or eight wines for $20. For an unforgettable wine country experience, plan to stay at the estate’s luxury vacation rental property through VRBO. The rental experience includes observing the daily operations of the winery and a complimentary estate wine tasting.
Ridge Vineyards: Healdsburg
Ridge Vineyards is primarily known for its red wines, particularly cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel, but the winery also produces a small amount of chardonnay. Their Lytton Springs Winery is located in Dry Creek Valley and is surrounded by ancient vines. This eco-sustainable winery is unique in that the building is made of vineyard clay and bales of straw, and it is partially solar-powered. The tasting room is open daily and reservations are not required for three of their flights, which range in price from $10 to $25 per person. The semiprivate estate tour and tasting features single-vineyard and estate wines, including the notable Monte Bello cabernet, for $35 per person (reservations required). Two private experiences are available as well.
Chalk Hill Estate: Healdsburg
This beautiful 1,300-acre property was first seen from the air as founder Fred Furth flew his plane over the Russian River in 1972. After viewing the land more closely, he knew the terrain and climate was ideal for growing luxury-class wine grapes. Chalk Hill Estate is now home to 300 acres of vineyards, a winery and hospitality center, a culinary garden, stables, an equestrian center, wilderness areas, ponds and guest houses. The tasting room is open daily by appointment. Chalk Hill Estate offers two reserve tastings at $30 and $65 per person; the latter includes limited production wines and a selection of cheeses. Visitors can also enjoy an estate tour and tasting at $50 or a culinary tour and tasting (for $120 per person), which begins with a guided estate tour and ends with a wine and food pairing with a view.
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